> This is a story that takes place after Nanashi chose his own path…
We last met in the depths of Twisted Tokyo. I did not think we would meet again. A strange coincidence, indeed.
I’m glad we left enough of an impression for him to remember. The two guys in suits standing beside him are Zenki (on the left) and Goki (on the right), two demons whose names you may recall featuring in two of En no Ozuno’s unique skills.
They had actual designs in the original Shin Megami Tensei, so I’m not sure why they’ve been reduced in stature to a single mirrored and kind of bland sprite now. For clarity and because I can, I’ll be using Zenki’s blue and Goki’s red sprites from the original SMT for their talk boxes.
This is the Diamond Realm. Though, you may know it better as the Expanse.
Now then… It seems you do not know why it is you have been brought here…
First, leave this room and speak with Stephen. You can ask him why you were summoned here.
If you wish to return to your world, I will take you there. Simply speak with me.
Come speak with me if you wish to heal your wounds. Good luck.
Zenki and Goki are in the adjacent rooms. Visit them if you are in need of their services.
Stephen awaits you just outside. Go speak with him.
Hello. I’m glad to see you accepted my quest.
Sorry for being so terse, we’re short on time. Allow me to explain things.
Four others have found their way here, besides yourself.
And like you, each is a messiah – though from different universes.
In other words, a protagonist.
YHVH feared them, however, and tried to force an end to their paths.
That is why I decided to…bend the laws of the universe and call them here.
This is one of the four messiahs.
He died when an ICBM fell on Tokyo.
Unfortunately, despite the Goddess’s efforts to prevent otherwise, YHVH broke his cycle of reincarnation.
I managed to salvage his soul, but… There’s nothing more I can do, beyond that.
The same applies for the other three… They’ve lost their bodies, but are now fighting here in the Diamond Realm.
I would like you to do what I am not permitted to – guide them back to their original worlds.
Should you agree to help them, I will lend you my power – even if I must risk bending the will of the Axiom.
And, of course, we agree to help them. Otherwise there’s not really much point to this DLC.
First, I would like you to go and greet the messiahs.
I’m counting on you.
For the Diamond Realm, Nanashi has beefed up even more through training and demon gifts. You may notice that hey, he’s breeched the level cap now. That’s an option procured through free ‘DLC’ that you can access at any point, but it’s finally actually required to engage in the Diamond Realm quest.
The active effects of leveling are somewhat stifled once you’ve passed the threshold. Each level up after 99 grants two ability points rather than five, +3 HP and +2 MP, and no further App points.
Demons can also keep leveling up.
There are wild demons in the Diamond realm, but they’re all level 85 versions of Aeros, Aquans, Erthys, and Flaemis; they act like A. Demons or Twisted Tokyo demons in that they can’t be negotiated with or recorded for analysis. They usually nullify every element other than the one they are weak to, so either target them with their opposing element or go for one of Physical, Gun, Light, or Dark.
Do you like linear blue and white corridors? I hope you do, because there’s a lot of them here. A whole lot of them. You need to navigate through to find the messiahs in separate rooms, including the one I have Nanashi positioned in front of right here.
Our first encountered messiah is Aleph, the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei II. After a mysterious encounter with Stephen and attaining the Demon Summoning Program, Aleph rose from a simple gladiator in the lawless quarter of the Messian’s vast Tokyo Millennium complex to a major player in the future of post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Of the gathered protagonists, he is the one that is most fitting to wear the title of Messiah, as he was literally conceived for that purpose: a replicateed man, meant to be the Messiah the Messian Order and four Herald archangels so desperately needed. Of course, free will can be a fickle thing, and the player could always choose to steer Aleph away from his Lawful destiny in order to bring forth freedom through Chaos or Neutrality. He’s one of the few SMT protagonists to directly get into fisticuffs with YHVH.
You’re the one from my dream! I see. You must be whom Stephen spoke of.
> Aleph glances at you while fighting off the enemies surrounding him.
> You leap into the fray and cut down one of the enemies.
Hey – heh, I see. You’re no ordinary kid, are you?
> Aleph nods at you.
Sorry to ask, but…mind helping me with these guys?
A. Law Horde is…well, a horde of Law. The horde resists Physical, Gun, Fire, and Force, repels Light, and is weak to Dark. This angry angelic onslaught is capable of using Antichthon, Deadly Wind, Riot Gun, Thunder Reign, Dekaja, Luster Candy, and Smile Charge. That last one’s worthy of note, as unlike main story bosses these guys have no qualms about using Smile Charge at the start of a turn and immediately following it up with Antichthon, not giving you a chance to Magaon it away. A. Law Horde’s got around 27,000 HP to remove in total, however, so the fight moves reasonable quickly.
> Aleph, having finished off his own enemies, walks over to you.
I thought I died, burned away by the Megiddo Ark…
Why am I here? Do you know what’s going on?
> You explain the situation to Aleph.
I see… In that case, I should go see En no Ozuno.
I’ll go on ahead. See you later.
Left behind in Aleph’s place is the Blue Key. The key doesn’t make sense, but it will once we gather all the messiahs. So off we go!
After passing through a teleporter in the northwest sector, we’ve made a roundabout trip up here to the northeast (please ignore the map difference, there were technical difficulties. Professional!). This is our next battleground.
> It seems he is one of the other messiahs.
> Demi-Fiend deftly avoids the enemy attacks while overwhelming them with magic.
The Demi-Fiend, protagonist of SMT III: Nocturne, is a perennial fan favorite of the series. His Tokyo is one of the Conception, where only those within a lone hospital in Shinjuku survive the apocalyptic scouring of Tokyo to prepare it as a battleground of ideologies in order to determine the fate of the next universe. Thanks to Lucifer shoving a spirit bug in his eye, the high-schooler now known as the Demi-Fiend becomes an entity somewhere between human and demon (kind of like Nanashi), his supernatural status marked by esoteric tattoos (again, kind of like Nanashi). Having no starting ideology of his own, the Demi-Fiend is nonetheless spurred on by his conviction to do something, bringing one of the various ‘Reasons’ of others to fruition.
You’re that guy from my dream!
> Demi-Fiend turns away from you and glares at the enemy horde.
> You leap into the fray and cut down one of the enemies.
> Demi-Fiend nods at you.
Take care of these guys.
A. Chaos Horde’s a bunch of demons, just as A. Law Horde was one of angels. This horde resists Gun, Fire, and Ice, nullifies Force, and weak to Electricity and Light. Its members use their three Press Turns on Antichthon, Trisagion, Debilitate, Dekunda, Makarakarn, and Smile Charge. The A. Chaos Horde has a bit more HP than A. Law, with around 31,000 in total.
> Demi-Fiend, having finished off his own enemies, walks over to you.
I thought Lucifer killed me after I destroyed Kagutsuchi.
Who are you? Why am I here?
> You explain the situation to Demi-Fiend.
En no Ozuno… I’m heading to where he is.
From the Demi-Fiend, we get the red key. There’s nothing in the southwest or southeast related to our goal. Instead, we need to head back to the center, but rather than go back to En no Ozuno we need to take the path that encircles the central complex. This leads to a northerly door that exits into further corridors.
Here’s our third and final messiah-finding location.
Oh hey, it’s Flynn. We know Flynn, sort of. This is the Shin Megami Tensei IV Flynn.
A child? Here?!
> It seems this Flynn does not recognize you.
It’s dangerous here. Get back!
> As he warns you, Flynn gauges the distance between him and the enemies.
> You leap into the fray and cut down one of the enemies.
You can fight?!
> Flynn nods his head.
Please, lend me a hand. I need your strength to defeat these enemies!
The A. Neutral Horde is resistant to Force, Electricity, and Light, nullifies Ice, repels Fire, and is weak to Gun and Dark. The horde’s skills are Ice Age, Mazandyne, Thunder Reign, Trisagion, Concentrate, Smile Charge, Will of Thunder, and Will of Wind., and the gaggle of gods is about on par with A. Chaos Horde for health.
Just as I was filling the chalice with hope, I was swallowed by the Great Abaddon summoned by Jonathan…
He means the black hole from the Yamato Perpetual Reactor that Merkabah summons.
I don’t suppose you know what this is all about?
> You explain the situation to Flynn.
I see… I think I understand.
I shall speak with En no Ozuno. Let’s meet again later.
And that’s our cue to go back to En no Ozuno as well. There’s conveniently a shortcut back to the center right down and to the left (right on the minimap) from the room where we helped out IV-Flynn.
Only one remains – the one whose soul is in Stephen’s care.
Come. Give me the Red and Blue Keys.
> You hand En no Ozuno the Red Key and the Blue Key.
> The two keys shine, burst, and disappear in En no Ozuno’s hand.
The way is open… Go through the east door.
Stephen should be waiting for you on the other side.
Be prepared for anything.
You’ve no doubt noticed already, but the enemies here are strong… Be careful.
Hurry up. Don’t make me wait.
I will pray for your safety and success. Be careful.
En no Ozuno is referring to this east door. It’s quite shiny, and was previously locked even after we got both keys, requiring our monkish friend to open it.
And where we need to get is here.
Hello. Seems like you were able to meet with the messiahs from the other universes.
That leaves just one more…
> Stephen produces the last messiah’s soul and holds it up to you.
He is called the Hero… Right now, he is only a soul.
Your power is what he needs to return to his original form. Don’t worry, it’s far less complicated than it sounds.
> The messiah’s soul leaves Stephen’s hand and floats in the air.
> Stephen snaps his fingers. As he does, you feel briefly dizzy.
Now, using your power of observation, restore to him his rightful form.
So Stephen could just have just asked Nanashi to resurrect people this whole time?
By observing you, he should recall who he is. Then, he will be revived as a messiah.
To that end, I will do my own part. You just show us your potential.
Humans have been given the power to change the world.
We must show that power to his soul… Are you prepared?
You probably aren’t.
Boss Battle!: Stephen
That’s right, not only is Stephen a boss fight, he’s 28 levels higher than even YHVH himself. Meta is the enemy race for humans that have become more than human, including the Law and Chaos protagonists of the first Shin Megami Tensei, the Men in Black in the first Persona, and the planet’s herald in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.
Stephen has no weaknesses or resistances right now, and gets a free preemptive strike to cast two Luster Candies and a Debilitate, so you are at a disadvantage right off the bat. Get rid of those buffs and debuffs before going in with your best damage dealers.
Stephen’s got a lot of tricks, but in addition to the existing skills Debilitate, Dekunda, Luster Candy, and Smile Charge, most of his unique skills are variations on existing skills. The Singularity elemental attacks are all severe damage target-all skills with Pierce. Singularity Flames is Fire damage, Singularity Hail is Ice, Singularity Lightning is Electricity, and Singularity Vortex is Force.
Energy Compression’s just severe Physical damage to one foe, like Akasha Arts but without the Smirking Pierce.
Black Body Radiation halves the remaining HP all party members. By the way, black body radiation’s a type of thermal radiation, of which one subset is Hawking radiation – named after, of course, Stephen Hawking. So that’s kind of a cute reference, even if I’m not sure what it has to do with the actual effect of the attack.
Singularity Brand deals heavy Physical damage to one foe and inflicts Brand.
Remember YHVH’s Planned Chaos skill? Calamity Code is the same thing.
There’s also Reboot Code, which is the same as YHVH’s Divine Harmony skill.
It takes a suspiciously light 25,000 HP of damage to take Stephen down. You can probably guess something’s afoot.
> Stephen leans back in his chair and gestures toward the floating soul.
It would seem he managed to regain his original form by observing our fight.
I’d hope so, given that was the whole point of that exercise.
> The soul twists into a human shape and gradually begins to become living flesh…
The Hero is the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei, the original. Way back in 1992, the Hero was the first player character to receive Stephen’s aid and usher in the formula frequently utilized by the series to this day. The Hero was fighting demons both before, during, and after the apocalypse: he encountered the initial incursion in his hometown of Kichioji, barely survived the ICBMs that rained down on Tokyo via being whisked away to the Diamond Realm, and braved the post-nuclear wasteland to advance the cause of Chaos, Law, or Neutrality.
Thank you, child. Because of you, I am whole again.
> The Hero bows to you.
Nanashi… Do you remember what I wrote in my request?
Through your observation, the Hero has remembered what he needs to do.
You are his guiding light… But I am not satisfied yet.
I said you needed to guide all of them.
> As Stephen says that, the door behind you flies open.
Looks like this was good timing.
What exactly are we supposed to do?
The players are all here… Let us begin, then.
Okay. Stephen leaves his wheelchair at this moment. He stands to prove things are ‘getting serious’. This?
This is a shitty, horrible, terrible, really bad cliché. The whole ‘now the training gloves are off, and my disability vanishes!’ media beat perpetuates this idea that disabled characters can’t be ‘badass’ unless their disability is removed. I’m sure you had options that weren’t that! You could have had him levitate himself and his wheelchair like a floating throne, that could have worked. It’s a gross thing to do in a story, and doubly so in the case of a character that was designed as an homage to the late Stephen Hawking.
That is because I sensed that humans have the potential to exceed the Axiom.
I need you to show me that I’m right, that it was worth bending such immutable rules to save you.
Now, show me humanity’s true potential.
Take the reins of history once more…
> You feel an immense energy radiating from Stephen. A knot forms in your chest.
We are short on time… All of you, come at me at once.
Don’t whine and say it’s unfair later, okay?
This imposing presence… He is no ordinary opponent. Be on your guard.
I can’t lose – there’s still something I need to do!
This is the first time I have ever had to fight at full power.
I might not be able to hold back. Apologies in advance.
Is that…Magnetite flowing from his body? I see. This must be how people fight in this world.
I know you just got your body back, but get used to it fast – he’s not going to wait around for us.
Boss Battle!: Stephen (Full Power)
Welcome to the hardest fight in the game. It’s also, unfortunately, rather underwhelming in conception once you peel past the whole fanservice skin. Stephen is almost literally just a stronger YHVH fight: he steals most of YHVH’s unique skills, has the same fight gimmick as YHVH (more on that in a moment), and he even has Demonized YHVH’s fight music.
As with YHVH, Stephen is fought with two parties. And as with YHVH, one of those parties is Nanashi and his demons while the other is a group of heroes, in this case being the protagonists of the past four games. Let’s run down how they play.
The Hero is a Physical bruiser, having High Phys Pleroma as a passive, Charge and Morale Boost (Luster Candy, but cheaper MP cost) as support skills, and Mist Rush, Crescent Slash (two medium Physical attacks plus Sukunda), and Lightspeed Slash (medium Physical attack with Pierce and reduction of a resistance by one step, which is important as Stephen has the same YHVH gimmick of starting out resistant to everything and needing to be cut down to size).
The gunman of the group, presumably because of the pistol on each hip in his original artork, Aleph has High Gun Pleroma, Critical Eye, Warrior’s Spirit (cheaper Debilitate), Myriad Arrows, Sonic Shot (two medium Gun attacks plus Magaon), and Gideon Bullet (Lightspeed Slash, but with Gun).
Demi-Fiend is your big numbers damage-dealer. On top of those massive Strength and Magic stats, he’s packing Almighty Pleroma, Samarecarm, and four unique skills: Magma Axis (Trisagion but cheaper), Deadly Fury (heavy Physical damage with a very high critical chance and Pierce), Gaea Rage (severe Almighty damage plus Debilitate), and Freikugel (severe Almighty damage that gets doubled if he’s Smirking).
Finally, there’s that SMT IV Flynn. You may notice he’s the only one that has his portrait on his stats screen, even though we clearly saw the other protagonists have portraits too. They used them in dialogue and everything, so I have no idea what that’s about. Anyway, this Flynn doesn’t have Godslayer’s Sword like Apocalypse Flynn does, and indeed doesn’t have any unique skills at all. His repertoire is made up of Enduring Soul as a passive, followed by Antichthon, Deadly Wind, Ice Age, Thunder Gods, Mediarahan, Samarecarm, and Smile Charge.
Stephen also has some new tricks to keep up with the heroes, though most are cribbed from YHVH as I stated before. On top of Black Hole, which functions exactly as it did in YHVH’s fight, we have the following renamed or new skills.
Wave Function deals severe Almighty damage to all foes.
Pair Production’s the same as YHVH’s Infinite Power and Demonic Hope’s Revelation.
Similarly, Particle Annihilation is the same as Unending Curse.
Convergence deals eight strikes of heavy Physical damage to random targets.
At around 40,000 HP of damage or so, you need to watch out for Stephen taking out all the stops to perform his most powerful two skills. Singularity Wave is the only attack in the entirety of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse that utterly curbstomps one target with colossal Almighty damage, the seldom-used fifth tier of damage even more powerful than severe. His critical hit chance seemingly goes up at this point as well, just as a fuck you, but that may be confirmation bias at work.
The other is Crack Code, which is YHVH’s Authoritative Stance with another name. Still, three Press Turns lost is obnoxious no matter what name it’s under, so good luck with that.
I’m not gonna lie to you, this can be a nasty fight. There’s not really any good solution for Singularity Wave beyond “have a demon with Samerecarm ready to put the mangled pieces of the corpse of whoever was hit by it back together again”, and beyond that it’s basically the same advice I’d give for YHVH: have at least two demons (or a demon and Nanashi) with good healing skills, a wide spread of high attack skills of various damage types to exploit various weaknesses the Messiah team will open up, and the Dekunda-Dekaja-Magaon triad of skills is vital. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with what demons you have in your party at the start or swapping out demons as the fight goes on, either, though of course that means more level grinding to get them on par.
But eventually, sooner or later, his 100,000 HP number will be up.
Your strengths are all wonderful. I suppose it’s no surprise, considering the Goddess saw so much potential in you.
My job here is done…
All of you must return to your own universes and accomplish what you were meant to do.
…Until we meet again.
And with that, Stephen disappears, the battle over and your reward of 225,400 experience points dropped in your lap.
I guess it’s only fair that the Demi-Fiend is confused, as he’s the only one here who didn’t meet Stephen in his actual game.
Yes, Stephen has restored us. All that’s left is to find a way back to our respective universes.
Yeah, I still have much to do… I can’t put it off indefinitely.
All of us have responsibilities we must tend to. This is where we part ways.
> A wormhole suddenly appears before you. It seems you can return to your world through it…
Lucifer’s waiting for our showdown.
I won’t go easy on anyone who gets in my way, not even the prime minister. See ya, Nanashi.
I must obtain hope with my friends and remove a dome of rock separating two countries…
Well then, I shall depart myself. Goodbye, Nanashi.
I must return to my own universe as well. I’m concerned about Tokyo, now that the ICBM fell…
I still don’t know which is the right path. Law, Chaos, or perhaps…
Maybe there isn’t a right path. But I need to learn what the people desire most.
I don’t know how long that will take, but I won’t rest until I find the answer.
Let’s meet again.
> You turn around to see En no Ozuno standing before you.
What? I just came to see you off. …Good work, Nanashi.
But, this isn’t necessarily the end.
The universe is vast. There are many worlds.
More people like you will no doubt be born and weave their own tales.
I can’t meet them all as we have, but… well, it’s nice to have a little excitement from time to time.
This conversation doesn’t happen if you never faced and bested En no Ozuno in the depths of Twisted Tokyo. It’s a nice moment, at least.
I have a post-mortem of this whole Let’s Play planned to go up before the month’s out, but this DLC is more or less the last proper update. And it’s certainly a DLC to have opinions on.
Is it the worst? Hell no, you saw the Explosive Epidemic in Mikado update, right? That’s irredeemably uninteresting and doesn’t even have any particularly neat rewards, just paltry experience points and a plug for a manga nobody’s going to read.
Is it the most disappointing? Maybe, but I’d say that doing something with a demon as well-known as Mephistopheles and having it be a beach episode equivalent of all things felt pretty disappointing too.
Is it the one with the most wasted potential? That one. It’s definitely that one. Messiahs in the Diamond Realm wants to coast by on the whole spectacle of “and everyone comes in for a big party” style fanservice while ultimately just rehashing YHVH. The poor old Diamond Realm doesn’t fare much better, its SNES era boxy corridor design not quite holding up to being in the era of 3D; the music is a nice remix of its theme from the original Shin Megami Tensei, but the designers could have remixed the stage itself for greater effect. And that’s not even getting started on the whole shit with Stephen standing out of his wheelchair, which I feel like I’ve made my opinion clear on already.
Kernels of a good DLC rest in the center of this. The idea that a game over has existential consequences and lads to a fight to prove your existence is still needed could have been good, a crossover of major Shin Megami Tensei protagonists across multiple timelines could have been good, revisiting the Diamond Realm could have been good, fighting Stephen could have been good. Could have been. Could have been…